Brett and I took my excellent niece and nephew to Raging Waters at Cal Expo on Saturday. Brett's mom also came with us, which was awesome because the kids aren't even her grandkids and she could have spent the day hanging out by her own pool for free. My six-year-old niece was just tall enough to go on all the waterslides. And she did. All of them. There was nothing too scary for this little girl. After each slide, I kept expecting her to emerge at the bottom, spluttering and coughing and crying and demanding to go back to the wave pool with her brother.
She never did though. She'd shoot out the end of the slide breathless and exhilarated and ready for more. It kind of made the rest of us look bad, actually. (And by the rest of us, I just mean me.)
Toward the end of the day, the lines were short even for the most popular slides so we thought we'd hit a few more of her favorites before the park closed. Brett had been squiring her around to the super scary slides but he insisted I take her back to the Dragon's Den so I could ride it with her.
Dragon's Den is the newest slide at Raging Waters and I'd seen the ads for it online. It's a waterslide with a unique twist. After an initial plunge into a dark and twisty tube, the riders (on a two-person innertube) are shot out into a large basin. Jets of water coming from the bottom and sides propel the innertube around and around the basin and eventually into another slide which leads to the splashdown pool.
Looks like fun. Not too scary. No freefalling. No airtime. Plus, I get to ride with my niece. All systems are go.
We load onto the innertube, Jess in front, me in back. We go hurtling down the slide. There's speed and screaming and splashing. Suddenly, we are in the Dragon's Den, shooting around and around the sides of the basin. Mist sprays. The Dragon growls. Jess giggles.
The basin is ingeniously designed so that the flow of the water and the angle of the sides will push the riders toward the opening to the second half of the slide as the initial momentum decreases. We pass this opening two, three, four times as we swirl around in the Dragon's Giant Toilet Bowl.
On our next pass around, it is clear that it is our final lap. We are now going slow enough to get caught in the raging torrent at the opening of the second slide. Actually, it almost seems like we are going a little too slow. Actually, we are loosing speed rapidly. Actually, we are grinding to a stop. Actually, we are stuck now on the exact opposite side of the basin from where we need to be. Even with all the water and slippery fiberglass, we're not moving. At all.
It seems as though the combination of an innertube which was a little flat from the day's use along with my big butt in back and Jess's tiny butt in front was enough to create sufficient drag in an area which had very little water flowing across to act as a breaking mechanism. Right in the middle of the ride.
As much as I wished another rider would come shooting out into the basin and knock us loose, I knew that would not happen. There was no one else in line behind us. Also, due to an accident years ago which involved several high school students piling into a slide and causing it to collapse, Raging Waters now staffs the top and the bottom of each slide. The guy at the top will only let the next rider go when he receives the signal from the bottom that the first rider is clear.
We sat there for a moment, stunned. I realized I would have to dislodge us before the staff sent someone to look for us. Jess leaned forward and I lifted my soggy butt as high off the slide as possible. I pushed us forward with my fingertips. We moved a fraction of an inch. I gave another superhuman push with all my fingertip strength. We moved enough to get back into the water flow. A little more wriggling and butt-scooching and we were finally on our way again.
I told Brett about our unique experience and blamed it mostly on the fact that the innertube was slightly flat. "Well, when we went on it the first time, the guy told us we needed to try to keep our butts up the whole time."
Funny, he didn't mention that to us. Of course I can see why he might warn my tiny-butted niece and my average-butted husband when they rode, but I guess he felt a Rubenesque lady like myself would just know to not let her butt drag.
Maybe they should add that to their warning signs:
You should not ride this ride if you:
1. Have back trouble
2. Have heart trouble
3. Are pregnant
4. HAVE A BIG BUTT